Every fall and winter many of us get sick with either a cold or flu. Illness often sweeps through an entire studio, taking students and pros out of commission for several days. It’s not hard to see why, with the very close facial contact in a dance hold, and also the constant touching of hands. But with a few precautions, you can avoid colds and flu, and reduce the chances of being out sick this year and helping to keep others healthy too.
Of course one option getting a lot of media coverage right now are flu vaccines. Flu is the more worrisome illness, and for some people, the vaccine may be recommended for you. You can receive a seasonal flu shot from either a doctor’s office or flu shot clinic, sometimes at pharmacies, schools, even workplaces. However, only 3 strains of the flu are in each yearly vaccine, so it’s prudent to take other precautions to guard your health whether you opt to get a flu shot or not.
So, what can you do from a practical standpoint to help stay healthy? We’ve broken it down into Bronze through Gold with tips to avoiding being out of dancing commission with a cold or flu:
Okay here are the most basic strategies to reduce spreading sickness. First and foremost, wash your hands! It’s shocking how often people leave the bathroom at the studio without having washed their hands. Not only is that just plain gross, but is a major contributor to spreading germs. Also, wherever you’ve come from before you arrive at the studio probably had you in contact with people who might be sick, or with germs left on tables, door handles, money, etc. So take a moment after you arrive at the studio to wash your hands before touching anyone. Be sure to wash after you visit the restroom, after your group class, dance party or private lesson. Many studios do not have hot water, but wash anyway, and if hot water is available, be sure to use it.
For instructors who are teaching children, it might be a good idea to start instilling these hygiene habits early. You could make it part of your lesson or class to begin with hand washing before you take the floor and then send them all the sink after class is over.
Also, keep a hand sanitizer in your shoe bag. This is a good alternative if you can’t wash your hands right away, for example, after a dance with someone with suspicious symptoms. Sanitizer should not be used in place of hand washing, but it’s better then nothing.
Both hand washing and sanitizer with dry your hands, along with winter weather, so in order to keep your hands from drying and cracking (and further compromising your barriers for sickness) also have a good hand cream readily available.
Another basic step is covering a cough or sneeze. It’s surprising how many times I’ve had people cough or sneeze on me in dance hold! uh..yuck! This is a case where it is okay to drop your frame! Release your partner (seems self explanatory) and cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm, if you do not have a handkerchief handy. If you have coughed or sneezed into your hands, be thoughtful and take a quick minute to wash at the sink.
Taking care of your general health will strengthen your resistance and immunity. If you see people around you getting ill, step up your vitamin C intake, either in juice or vitamin form. Some others swear by echinacea and/or garlic as being great preventatives-although garlic should only be taken on a day you will not be 6 inches away from your partner! Also, don’t forget to sleep. Getting enough rest has been shown to help keep up immunity from contracting colds and flu.
No dancer likes to miss dancing, but the best path if you do come down with something is to stay home and rest, keeping others safe and helping yourself to get better faster. Please don’t come to the studio sick!
Studio owners and instructors should take special precautions during the cold and flu season, as their business can certainly be negatively impacted should a germ make it’s rounds through their school or clientele. Many instructors are wary to take a day off, even when sick, but it is important to keep in mind that if your students, couples or group classes catch it, you’ll be missing the next week of work with everyone staying home recovering. Better to take off a few days at the onset and prevent it spreading. Studio owners need to keep this in mind too and can be proactive by wiping stereo/DJ equipment buttons or computer keyboards down with alcohol. The same can also be done on all door handles and tables. Have not only soap but hand sanitizer available near sinks. Prevention is the best way to keep your business from suffering any down time due to a pervasive bug.
You may also consider an versatile essential oil blend. OnGuard is one such product that both supports a healthy immune system, as well as eliminates and controls pathogens on surfaces. Drops of the oil can be mixed with water in a spray bottle and used any hard surface that is frequently touched. It can also be used in a diffuser to be released throughout the studio, and it can be taken orally to reduce down time if you end up catching something. You can order OnGuard by clicking here.
For social dancers who are often changing partners many times a night, an option is to invest in a pair of thin cotton gloves. Yes, it might look old-fashioned, but will certainly be appreciated, with your partners knowing they are not going to contract anything from touching your hands. (This is also a great idea for dancers with excessively sweaty hands.) Launder the gloves before your next time at the studio or party.
Taking precautions during the cold and flu season will increase the chances that you will not be laid up in bed feeling miserable but instead enjoying yourself out on the dance floor!
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